H Street, Washington, D.C.
H Street Northeast is hot again. For months, then years, then decades, the resurgence of the once vibrant H Street district seemed impossible. Empty lots pockmarked the neighborhood, entire store fronts were gone, and crime and drugs were rampant. Things began to change in 2002 when the neighborhood became an official Main Street America program dedicated to working with private and local partners to encourage and support small business growth and revitalization. Each year since the founding of the organization, at least 25 new businesses have moved in to the district and 5,000 new jobs have been created.
Twenty years ago, the historic core of Laramie was struggling. There were few thriving businesses. Only one or two restaurants remained open and several dilapidated buildings were so far gone that they required demolition. Worst of all, there was no unified vision for what downtown could become. That all changed when Wyoming Main Street provided the funds for a new, comprehensive downtown plan. Suddenly local stakeholders were sharing priorities, reviewing lessons learned and identifying short-and long-term goals. Today, because of the hard work of Laramie Main Street Alliance, virtually every storefront is occupied, there’s a calendar of events packed with celebrations, and an explosive demand for downtown housing.
Walk along First Street in this northern California city and it’s impossible to believe the historic downtown was practically dead a few decades ago. Restaurants, bars and specialty shops now line the main thoroughfare, and residents fill outdoor cafes sampling new menus and drinking local wine and beer. Families play around a series of splashing fountains or stroll sidewalks brimming with flowers and heavily planted with double lines of trees. The neighborhood is authentic, dynamic and flourishing. Downtown is the place to go thanks to the efforts of Livermore Downtown, Inc.
Today, Natchitoches is an exquisite historic gem with an abundance of cultural opportunities, a vibrant economy, and stunning historic architecture. Yet, there was a time not too long ago when the future of Natchitoches seemed uncertain. In the 1970s, Natchitoches’ century-old buildings were deteriorating, there was a vacancy rate of 60 percent, and many commercial enterprises had moved out and relocated. Two things turned the future around: Main Street and Hollywood. Thanks to the Main Street program that started in 1983 and the filming of Steel Magnolias in 1988 that drew world-wide attention to the community, Natchitoches is now a magnet for tourism and investment.
In 1989, Washington became one of five Missouri towns selected as a pilot community for the newly formed Missouri Main Street Program. In the years that followed, Downtown Washington, Inc. helped to re-shape the layout and aesthetic of the downtown district, and partnered with the city to renovate Main Street and actively promote downtown retailers. Then they really moved outside the box – they took out loans to purchase historic buildings and started to revitalize them on their own. Today, Washington has more than 500 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, restaurants and galleries filling the town’s historic brick buildings, and a boom in residential construction that has produced renovated apartments in Washington’s signature century-old brick buildings.